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JBrahmanical Inscriptions in Buddhistic Temples in Siam. 377 

IL BrahmaiJical Inscriptions in Buddhistic Temples 

IN Siam. 


Presented to the Society Oct. 26, 1864. 

Buddhism in Siam is affected by a mixture with Brahmanisfn, 
although not to such an extent as appears formerly to have been the 
case in Java. Still there are traces to show an early influence of the 
Brahmans on the Thai taces, as it has been more recently observed 
Upon the Manipureans and the most of the tribes in the Assam valley. 
In Burmah one finds often little temples of local deities or Nats, con- 
nected with the Buddhistic monasteries, similar to the Dewalas in Cey- 
lon ; but the functions of the Brahmans, the so-called court Brahmans 
or royal magicians, are for the greater part only exercised inside the 
precincts of the palace and limited to them ; whereas in Siam they 
preside at and conduct all the public festivals of a political and agricul- 
tuifal character. They exercise a still greater influence in Kainbodia, 
the center of an ancient civilization, as shown by the newly discovered 
monuments there. According to the Siamese " History of the North- 
ern Towns" (chonffsavadaii muang raiia), Savanthevalok or Sangkhalok, 
the most ancient town, was founded by the descendants of Mokhala 
and Saribut, the chief disciples of Buddha, on the advice of two Brah- 
mans, called Satxanalai and Sitthimongkhon. The lately revised edition 
of the history (under the superintendence of the present king himself) 
speaks of five Brahmanical races or tribes, called Adan, Vayathuk, Ra- 
mesuen, Thesaratri, and Phiri, who came from the country of Ramarat, 
and brought with them the sciences of letters and numbers, to instruct 
the Sayam nation (Siamese) and regulate the social institutions. A 
Brahmanical professor whom I consulted about it, here in Bangkok, 
spoke of eight (another of ten) families of Brahmans, but had only 
reference to a modern emigration, happening under king Narai of Ra- 
marath, who, hearing that another four-armed monster* was reigning 
in Sri-Ayuthia, sent him the image of Phra-Inswen (Siva) and other 
deities, which are now preserved in the Brahmanical temple of Bangkok. 

Amongst the pictures adorning the walls of one of the Vat (Bud- 
dhistic monasteries) in Bangkok, called Vat Suthat, I found the draw- 
ings of some of these Brahmans (Phrahmana), with explanatory in- 
scriptions, of which the following are specimens : 

I. " This is the figure of a Phrahm (Phrahmana or Brahman), be- 
longing to the tribe (race) Vaiyathiik, who lived originally in the town 
of Ramarath (Ramaratta, or city of Rama). They wear the hair bound 
up in a knot behind. They dress in white garments, and are skillful to 
arrange the twelve festivals and ceremonies of all kinds, using the 
Vitsanu-Mon (a mon or mantra). They worship Phra-Naray (Naraya- 

* Vishnu or Narayana is nearly always represented with a plurality of arms 
(according to his different arataras), but most generally the number of four prevails. 

378 Miscellanies : 

na or Vishnu) as the Lord, as the highest One in the world. And the 
four races of Phrahm, that is, the race of Ramahet, the race of Phe- 
sankri, the race of Vaiyathiik, the race of Phiri, use to carry shells and 
long beaked jars to pour out the water, consecrated by the Saiya-Mon, 
in sprinkling people, to liberate them from misfortunes. Some blow 
the shells and beat the sonorous wood, others play on the drums in me- 
lodious concert, to spread glory in the dwellings of men." 

II. " This is the figure of a Phrahm of the race Phi-Ramarath, deriv- 
ing its origin from the town Ramarath. They wear the hair in a high 
pointed knot on the middle of the head, resembling the (pointed cap 
called) xadinmonxada, and then wind the cloth of a costly turban round 
it. They dress only in white garments to adorn themselves. They 
know the Sinlaprasat (magical or natural sciences), being expert in the 
Vethangkhasat-Pakon and the Xatxu-Vethasat, and use the Iswen-Mon 

i mantra of Siva) for the Vitthi-Sai. They observe different festivals, as 
or instance the Thavathot-Phitthi (the twelve monthly festivals of the 
year). They worship Phra-Inswen as the Lord, declaring him to excel 
in the world." 

III. "This is the figure of a Phrahm, belonging to the Phiri race, 
called Nalivan in popular talk. They lived originally in the town 
(country) of Ramarath (Ayuthia, the old capital of King Rama of the 
solar race in northwestern India). They wear the hair falling down on 
the shoulders, the head wound round with costly clothes, as a turban, 
over equal lines of hair pulled out. They are expert in the Trai-Phet 
(three Vedas), and dress handsomely in white clothes. They under- 
stand the arrangements of the different festivals. They worship Phra- 
TJma-Phakhavadi (Bhagava, as the spouse of Siva), as the supreme 
deity of the world. And the five races of Phrahm, spoken of here, 
are in the habit of inserting ornamental rings in the ears and on the 
fingers. They hang rosaries on their necks, after the manner of Dabot 
(hermits).* On the upper arm of the right side they tie the Phrot (in- 
scribed with mystical characters). They wear the string Thuram over 
the shoulder. During the time they celebrate festivals, they eat neither 
deer nor fishes, but take only fruits of the trees and sesame-seeds for 
their nourishment." 

The books of the Brahmans, mostly consisting in the text-books of 
the festivals (kamphi phitthi), are written in a kind of Devanagari char- 
acter, which, although it is read, is not now understood by the Brah- 
mans settled in Siam. They are collectively called Kamphi Saiyasat, 
and include the here so-called Vethang or Vedas. 

One of the Brahmans, whom I questioned about the affairs relating 
to his race, said I should find a full account of the Brahmans in a book 
he gave me. This proved to be the deposition, taken down on royal 
order, of a Brahman, probably a begging Fakir, who some years ago 
(1850) had arrived in Bangkok from Benares. It begins thus : 

* The Dabot are generally identical with the Riisi, or hermits, but sometimes 
refer to a kind of Pratyeka-Buddha. In Japan, large images of Shakia (Sakyamu- 
ni) are called Dai-but, as for instance in the old capital of Kamakura, and explained 
in the language of the country to mean the great (dai) Budh or Buddha. 

Brahmanical Inscriptions in Buddhistic Temples in Siam, 379 

" On Monday, in the tenth month, the eleventh night of wane, at the 
era dating 1192, the year of the tiger, the second of the cycle, the 
nobles Phra-Amoramoli, Luang Nontheb, Chao Tha Phrahmana, and 
Nai Hong sat down together to interrogate the Brahman called Achuta, 
who gave the following account : 

' I was born in the town of Pharanasi (Benares). My father bore the 
name of Yethariya. He was a Phrahmana-Theva-Phrahm, of a family 
belonging to the Vasistha tribe, out of which the royal teachers are 
furnished. I had to do the royal work, together with my father, and 
got monthly fifty rupees. Of Hindus, there are in the town Pharanasi 
ten family tribes: 1, the Larati-krakun (krakun or family) of the Pha- 
rathavaxa-khotr (khota or race) ; 2, the Arayan-krakun of the Khavaka- 
khotr; 3, the Mahratha-krakun of the Samati-khotr ; 4, the Tetangkha- 
krakun of the Mani-khotr; 5, the Thinadara-krakun of the Naratha- 
khotr. These five family tribes are of a sinful race, as they eat flesh 
and fish. Then there are, 1, the Sarasut-kraknn of the Vasistha-khotr ; 
2, the Kamakabutta-krakun of the Kosiya-khotr ; 3, the Koma-krakun 
of the Bunlasati-khotr ; 4, the Maithen-krakun of the Samittat-khotr ; 
6, the Uthakanta-krakun of the Khotama-khotr (the race of Gautama). 
These five family races form the Phrahmana-Theva-Phrahma-krakun. 
They observe the five precepts continually, and do not eat flesh, nor 
anything which has life, living only on milk, butter, beans, and grain. 
They cook their own rice. Those who are not comprised in these five 
tribes of Brahraans are called Hindu. Because these tribes excel above 
all others, they are called Phrahmana-Theva-Phrahraa-krakun (the 
Brahmans of the family of the god Brahma). They worship Phra- 
khodom (Sommana-kodom or Gautama), and hold him in reverence 
above any other Thevada. In celebrating festivals, they make offerings 
to Phra-khodom first, and then to Phra-Iswen and Phra-Narai (Nara- 
yana or Vishnu). The Sanskrit language is esteemed very highly. In 
addressing his Majesty the king, only Sanskrit words must be used. 
The holy books of the Trai-Pidok, called Phuttha-Sastram, are not 
written on leaves, but in paper books.' " 

The report goes on then to speak about the monthly festivals, and 
that whoever wishes to be buried in the town of Pharanasi (from 
whence he will go straight to heaven) has to pay thirty rupees to the 
king. After a description of the holy places of Buddha at Khaiya 
(Gaya), the Brahman continues, that the names of all the orthodox 
kings were inscribed there, and that lately only Padungpu, king of 
Angva (Ava),* had sent an embassy, but that the name of the king of 
Siam was wanting still. He was therefore sent by TJthitchanarai, king 
of Khaya, a relative and dependent of the king of Pharanasi, to see how 
it stood about the town of Ayuthia, founded by Kama on his return 
from Langka (Ceylon). The first mention made of the English (Ang- 
kris) during the overland voyage occurs on the Brahman's arrival at 
Yakaiya (Arrakan). 

* An account of which is to be found in the Asiatic Researches, contributed by 
Colonel Barney, who at that time lived in Burmah, as the English Resident, 
voi,, VIII. 49